With the release of Sonic Mania and Sonic Origins, SEGA has shown that they haven’t forgotten fans of the classic 2D Sonic games, and this is the first time in a while that the studio has gone back to its roots and delivered a game that is memorable, a joy to play, and a treat for fans of retro Sonic titles, adding in the regular faces in Sonic’s posse. In my Sonic Superstars review, I’ll take a look at one of the most memorable entries in the series yet.
In typical Sonic story fashion, Sonic and his friends have to save the cute animals of the Northstar Islands from being turned into robots and we see the return of Fang the hunter make a comeback for the story who is aiding Eggman in his villainous schemes.
Across his travels, Sonic travels to 12 unique worlds spanning Jungles, Ruins, A Casino, and other similar visual landscapes that fans of the older entries will remember easily with a few surprises sprinkled in.
Right off the bat, players can play as Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy. Each character has their own unique ability that allows them to reach different parts of levels, which adds to the exploration. This helps the replay value in the story mode and gives you even more incentive to go through the levels again.
Along the way, Chaos Emeralds now give Sonic and his friends new abilities which I won’t spoil, but these can only be used once and have to be refreshed by finding a giant ring in the map again.
I am not a fan of gameplay loops, but this is an exception. To quote Lightning McQueen from Cars (2006) “Speed. I am speed” and the game handles this brilliantly! When playing on the PS5, I saw the vibrant color pallet come to life as Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles sped past the level to the point where I would have to slow down, backtrack, and see what I missed in previous parts of the level.
To feel the adrenaline rush of revving up the iconic hedgehog gang once more and see all the enemies, and environment, pass by your eyes in a colorful flash is always a sight that classic fans of Sonic games will appreciate.
The familiar 2D combat is still there where players will have to either speed-roll into or do an overhead jump to kill enemies. This applies to regular enemies and bosses, and while some of the trickier encounters require thinking out of the box, it still feels satisfying to use these two basic attack patterns in defeating what otherwise looks like an intimidating boss fight.
Aside from the familiar ability to fly across the levels via propeller tail as Tails, Climb, and Glide as Knuckles, or dash as Sonic, players can now use the powers of the chaos emeralds in new and unique ways by finding them in the world like in previous entries. One of the earliest powers you get is the ability to send clones of yourself to attack an enemy or obstacle, reducing any damage you would have otherwise taken and risking your rings.
While the levels share a similar theme and design to the retro games, there is enough original content here in the form of an arcade, time attack, and a story mode to help make things feel fresh, and if you have an extra controller, you can bring a friend to play with you via local co-op.
I found the enemies and bosses feel familiar to what I remember playing back on the old Sega consoles, and this was a great trip down memory lane for me, as it was thoroughly enjoyable. While the encounters are far from keeping anyone from completing the game, some bosses and enemies will definitely take some trial and error to get past, especially if this is your first Sonic title.
The combination of the visuals, audio, and environment paints what is easily my favorite (original) 2D Sonic title to date. Few other titles have come close to achieving this level of near-perfection when it comes to being a kid again and playing Sonic 1 and 2 on the Sega, and this game replicated that feeling for me after a very long time.
While Mania and Origins are notable entries, they are still remasters/remakes of the earlier works and have their own ranking, but the visual style employed here is splendid, eye-catching, and fun to look at, always guaranteeing that you will enjoy the game’s visuals on every playthrough, and even bring some friends and family to appreciate the style with you as well.
All of the details in the foreground and background are well-animated, with plenty of detail going around in both scenes. This is one game where despite the push for speed, it is worth it to stop and look at some of the scenery in the game for how vibrant it looks.
A Treat for the Eyes
With the diversity of scenes to explore from the aforementioned locations, the visual sceneries of each Act are just a treat for the eyes. The animations of the water, sand, particle effects, and more in the world really show that this is easily Sonic’s most nostalgic adventure yet. A trip you won’t regret taking.
The adorable animations of turning a once menacing robot into a harmless bird or rabbit are still as rewarding as before, paired with a fun and nostalgic soundtrack that takes you back on a journey through time. The soundtrack does add a modern take on the older tune, and this is something you will only find out by playing the game.
The visuals are easily my favorite part of the experience. The enemies, boss fights, and every detail in the world is so well-done and it reflects that Sega has created what is easily one of the best 2D Sonic games in a long while.
Sonic Superstars is a fantastic return to form for a series that for a while lost its identity, and found its way back to my heart. While many purists will have a bone to pick here and there with some design choices along the way, I personally felt taken back to my childhood days of playing the first 2 games all over again and I loved it.
The beautiful graphics, chippy soundtrack, and the ability to play as any character right off the bat make this a homerun combination for fans like myself who want to remember the best Sonic was fun and enjoyable.
What did you think of our Sonic Superstars review? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
This preview is based on the PS5 version of Sonic Superstars. The key was provided by Indigo Pearl and SEGA.